With the Washington Nationals bullpen in need of a big upgrade this winter, could Andrew Miller be a viable option to help lock down the late innings?
The Washington Nationals are in a familiar position this offseason, as they look for bullpen help again. One of the best relievers on the market will be left-handed reliever Andrew Miller, so could the two sides be a match?
You will likely remember Miller most for stealing the show in the 2016 postseason with the Cleveland Indians. He was creatively used by manager Terry Francona to get shutdown innings when the team needed them most in a dominant high-leverage role.
However, after five straight seasons with a sub-3.00 ERA, and two of those being sub-2.00 ERA seasons, he regressed badly in 2018 with a 4.24 ERA. Some of the inconsistencies he experienced last season are likely down to a knee injury that’s forced him to the DL three times in the last two seasons.
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While he’s now at the ripe old age of 33, and with those knee concerns, he could be in line for his biggest contract yet. Teams are more desperate than ever to get a host of dominant arms in their bullpen, with many starters no longer going deep into starts, leaving a lot for the bullpens to do.
The Nationals previously explored the possibility of acquiring Andrew Miller from the New York Yankees at the trade deadline in 2016. However, back then, the Indians managed to grab him for a king’s ransom, after Mike Rizzo deemed the price too steep.
In those negotiations, it was rumored they were prepared to give up Lucas Giolito, who at the time, was the top pitching prospect in all of baseball. So the team will probably have at least some interest in Miller this winter as he hits the free agent market.
Despite the acquisition of setup man Kyle Barraclough from the Miami Marlins, the Nats will still explore high-end bullpen options. If they could add Andrew Miller to the mix, then they would arguably have a better back three in the bullpen than they had last year.
In terms of cost, Miller would likely be seeking a deal that will eclipse the four-year, $36 million deal he signed with the Yankees before the 2015 season. Because of his age, he may not get the same four years, but the total should easily beat his previous contract.
Spotrac gave the left-handed reliever a market value of $17.9 million per season for the upcoming free agency period. So it would be realistic to think that, with the knee injury in mind, an average annual value of $16 million would be enough to nail down Miller on a three-year deal. Should the Nationals pony up and pay that much for him?
It would be foolish to rule out Mike Rizzo dishing that type of deal out as he looks to form another lockdown trio in the absence of Ryan Madson and Brandon Kintzler. However, the knee injury gives plenty of pause for thought, and it would be better for the Nationals to look elsewhere for a relief option.
Perhaps a trade for someone along the lines of Shane Greene, Raisel Iglesias or Kirby Yates could be targeted in a trade. Then the Nats could get a lockdown reliever to fill the eighth inning role, without paying an extortionate salary for someone like Andrew Miller. That becomes even more important with a possible Bryce Harper contract, and Anthony Rendon extension on the horizon.
As much as Andrew Miller would help the Washington Nationals revamp their bullpen, the cost just doesn’t make sense.